Admitting Defeat

It dawned on me yesterday that I was fooling myself if I thought I was going to make it to marathon ready in less than 2 months. Less than a month and a half, even.

So, as much as it breaks my heart, I won’t be participating in the Knysna Forest Marathon this year.  Instead, I’ve made an appointment to see a physiotherapist this month and she’ll be helping me treat this niggling knee injury properly, so that I can get back to running and training the way I want to.

It’s been a shitty time these last couple of weeks. Health issues in the family have been a problem – my mom took a nasty turn last week with the diabetes and, after not paying too much attention to Jack’s moaning about a sore tummy for quite a while, I finally took him to a doctor and it turns out he’s gluten intolerant. His liver and intestines are taking strain because he’s been eating all the wrong things and I couldn’t feel more like a fucking horrible mother for not listening to him sooner.

On the upside, the tumble dryer has been repaired and our lives are that much easier once again. Also, my mom having to have emergency treatment for seriously high blood glucose levels (24.5!!!) and Jack’s visit to the doctor have driven home a little bit better what I’ve been trying to get the family to understand for months: We should be eating Paleo. Or at least as close to it as we possibly can.

The hardest part of that for me, of course, is giving up the sugar and the decadent desserts. And the dairy. Apparently, Hashimoto’s sufferers are supposed to cut out gluten AND dairy. And just like that, my whole life is once again about food and giving up the stuff I love eating most…

Except that my whole life can’t be about food because there’s simply too much to do. And my Meg is off to high school in a few short months’ time. She’ll be boarding in another province, coming home one or two weekends a month and holidays. So much planning, talking, preparing to do!

She can’t wait to go, which I’m glad about. At least she’s going into it with anticipation, rather than feeling like we’re deserting her or don’t want her around. I guess we wouldn’t have considered boarding as an option if she’d felt that way but still…

A part of me is almost jealous that she gets to go to an awesome school with some amazing teachers. And another part is terrified of sending my child off into the world. Yet another part looks forward to her absence so that I get to enjoy her that much more on her weekends and holidays at home for having missed her so much while she’s away. This Mom gig ain’t for pansies!

 

The Tragedy of the Tumble Dryer

I’ve mentioned a number of times, I think, that we are a large household. There are eight of us. That’s double the average middle class household in South Africa. As such, we do a LOT of the following:

1. We eat a lot. Four adults and four growing children equals a lot of hungry people. Food is important.

2. We wear a lot of clothing. This translates to having a washing machine and tumble dryer that work very, very hard.

This weekend, tragedy struck – our tumble dryer started making a horrible, grinding noise, indicating that its drum bearing is stuffed. We had a crap load of wet washing, though, so we still made use of it, albeit sparingly. But then, on Monday, it stopped heating at all and we have had to start hanging up 8 people’s laundry on the washing line outside. This in itself is a logistical feat of epic proportions. Throw into the mix a massive, shady tree that prevents the clothing on the line from seeing the sun and you have lots of wet washing that stays wet forever.  And don’t even get me started on the ironing. The dryer used to make it so that at least half of the washing didn’t need ironing. Now, everything has to be ironed and it’s a double hand tragedy.*

Now, all the eco-activists out there are probably going to have a go at me about using a tumble dryer in the first place, because electricity crisis and eco what-what… But the simple truth of it is that without the dryer, I’m screwed.

I’m planning a small memorial service for the trusty tumble dryer tonight, after which there will be pancakes for dinner (stuffed with savoury mince) and dessert (with strawberries, whipped cream & syrup). Because it’s Wednesday and Wednesday nights are pancake nights.

And until we either have this one fixed or are able to buy a new dryer, there will be morning mourning in this house every day. True story.

*Double hand tragedy: When the tragedy is of such magnitude as to warrant the clamping of two hands over the mouth in grief, as opposed to a single hand tragedy, whose lesser magnitude demands only one hand…

On Learning, Purging, Races not Run and Runner’s Knee

I’ve been chipping away incrementally at the many things I need to master in my life for the last while, all the while dreaming of when it’ll finally be done so that I can get to the more enjoyable bits of life.

And then I read a blog post yesterday by a blogger I haven’t read before – a letter from her 40 year old self to her 20 year old self – in which she states that it hit her at 38 that her life is already here!

This is something I have struggled with all my life – this inability to live in the moment, always wanting more, always looking ahead instead of simply being in the now. Most often, it’s about not having the money to do blah right now or putting off something I want to do because I’m not getting around to doing the things I’m supposed to do, first. And if I’m honest with myself, the root cause of the problem is me.

I procrastinate and delay and put off and avoid doing things because I don’t enjoy them. Or I’m uncertain of myself and afraid of doing it wrong, so I do nothing instead. And every day that passes, I tell myself I’ll get on it tomorrow. But tomorrow, the cycle repeats itself and I go to bed again, telling myself I’ll do it tomorrow…

And every now and then, when all things are perfectly aligned, I have a good day and get things done. And it goes smoothly and everything works and I don’t have to force myself all that hard to get going. And it feels great. But it’s not enough.

So, I’ve decided to revisit some of the successful tools I’ve used in the past, to get myself motivated and busy, doing the things I need to get done.

One of these was the 31 Baby Steps on this website. I don’t necessarily like all the stuff on there or agree with her very touchy-feely vibe. But I can look back and recognise that when I started doing the 31 steps a few years back, and kept at it, it was one of the most productive phases of my life so far.

Another is doing a daily Battle Plan or To-Do List and sticking to it. This is a tricky one for me at this point because there are just so many things I need to get done and have neglected for too long. And the difficulty for me is in prioritising the list. Getting work stuff finished is urgent but so is making sure that the kids are all fine. At the same time, I need to up my skills in various areas, in order to be able to properly do what I need to do. This means finding the time and resources to study some stuff I’m not that clued up on, otherwise I’m never going to get anywhere. And having a clear, uncluttered space in which to work is the only way I can focus, so sorting out my space and the house in general is just as important.

I was thinking today that perhaps, instead of working off my big “Master Plan” for the year, I should break down the day into specific time slots, each dedicated to a specific activity. That way, I get to do some work in every area of my life, every day, and slowly get to cross off all the stuff I need to do, until I’ve caught up…

I’m giving myself a deadline by which I need to be caught up on everything, from each child’s individual space, cupboard, school stuff, etc., to each room in the house and each division of my business, not counting stuff I have yet to learn how to do. That deadline, I’ve just decided, will be 30 June 2015.

In the process of catching up and sorting out, I should be able to set up systems for maintaining these various areas and activities, so that I don’t fall behind again. Kind of like the FlyLady system. Starting small, slowly working up to more things, so that you can keep a handle on it all as you go. Which should free up time for learning the things I need to learn and so on and so forth.

There are a few different areas of study I’m interested in but I’ll start with my incomplete BA (Language & Literature) at UNISA. I won’t be able to register again until next year, though, so I should be able to do a couple of short courses in the meantime. I’m looking at a basic web design course, so that I can finally get my business site and blog to look and work the way I want them to, and a digital marketing course, for obvious reasons.

Considering the time it’ll require to complete my UNISA degree, the other things I’m keen on are purely theoretical at this point, but I have decided that I’m going to re-do matric Maths (I dropped to Standard Grade because I was lazy) and also do matric Science next year.  With those, I’ll be able to sign up for a BSc or BEng degree when I’ve completed my BA. I’m looking at BSc Chemistry or BEng Mechanical – ideally from somewhere other than UNISA.

Speaking of time and the lack thereof, my propensity for procrastination and general disorganisation aside, I’ve noticed that I still waste lots of it opening email newsletters every day. In fact, the percentage of emails I receive every day that are actually meant for me, from someone I know, is embarrassingly small, given how many emails I open every single day. This is, of course, another symptom of my online competition entering addiction – You know how it is: Like us on Facebook, sign up for our newsletter, tweet about our promotion/s, etc. for an entry…  I know I said some time back that I was going to clean that shit up and I did, some. But today I realised that I still receive far too many emails that I really couldn’t care less about, purely because I entered a signup-tied competition at some point.

And you know? I think this is something that brands may want to take a closer look at. Yes, it’s good to build your mailing lists. Yes, you want to attract customers with giveaways and promotions. But what good a mailing list made up of mostly people looking for free stuff?

Anyway… So today I unsubscribed from another dozen or so newlsetters I receive every day and never read. Tomorrow, I’ll have a look at what comes in and purge a few more.

In other news, the running is not happening right now. I was registered for 2 races these past 2 weekends and I missed both. It broke my heart because the kilometres and race experience are vital to my preparations for the Knysna Forest Marathon in July. But I have had to accept that it is even more vital that I treat and recover from this case of runner’s knee I’ve developed, otherwise I may find myself unable to run at all in the long term. That would be tragic.

I’m still going to try to be ready for Knysna but  if worse comes to worst, there will be other marathons later in the year.

What’s happening in your world?

 

Better?

On Monday last week, I ran 21.5km in 2h20m44s. It wasn’t my fastest run ever but it was my fastest 21km ever. And it was just me, my music player, my water bottle and the road. I felt like a total rock star after that run.

Then, I took my Jack for an eye test.

They had those compulsory eye and hearing tests at school a while back and we received a letter stating that Jack had some problems with his eyes – a convergence weakness and a weak tracking system.

I looked those up and it seemed we’d be okay with some eye exercises. But I wanted a second opinion before getting into anything, just to be sure.

And it turns out he needs glasses and will probably have to live with them all his life.

The optometrist gave me a pair of lenses to look through, so that I could see what Jack sees without glasses on. I can’t believe my poor little guy has spent all his life seeing everything as a single, distorted blur!

And I guess I’m really glad we’ve caught the problem fairly early, and that we can do something about it. He looks too cute in his new glasses!

Jack with his new glasses on
Jack with his new glasses on

And he’s being surprisingly diligent about wearing and looking after them. The optometrist said that we would probably have a hard time getting him to wear his glasses but I think she underestimated what a difference they make in his world, because I really don’t have to remind him all that often to put them on…

We had a low-key Easter holiday at home. Lots of DVDs, playing in the garden and doing as little as possible. Apart from finally having started that accounting…

A lot of things this year have been and are going to be low-key. It’s just what it is for me right now. A lot of the time, I feel like I’m getting nowhere but that’s not entirely true. Stuff is moving forward, progress is being made and whatever.

I’m going to have to get my head straight and get busy(er) doing things like blogging, keeping my shit together and doing business.

This week is heading for hectic-ville, what with school applications, running around, executing logistics, fitting in enough long runs to ensure I’ll be able to complete the various races I’ve signed up for (a half marathon on 26 April, a 32km on 3 May and my very first full marathon on 11 July…)

I even splurged on a pair of new running shoes at last! I took them out for the first time this morning and I love them!

New Shoes

The colder weather is making it harder to get out of bed at sparrow’s fart to run, so these are a great motivator. These, and the fact that I need to be marathon ready in just under 13 weeks.

Anyway… This post feels totally half-arsed – mainly because it is. I started it a while ago and got tired, so I went to bed. And now I don’t feel like going back into all the details of it all in my head, so I’ll be back soon with a proper post.

 

The End of March

And just like that, a month has gone – don’t ask me where!

March is always a busy one for us. We have 5 close family members’ birthdays in March: My brother’s on the 7th, our James’ on the 9th, FIL’s on the 10th, David’s on the 17th and my mom’s on the 26th.  And, were he still alive, it would have been my father’s on the 8th.

We’ve kept it pretty low key this year, and I think it’s good we did. To be honest, I just don’t feel up to going big for anything right now. It could be to do with my feeling a bit – what? Depressed? Numb? Nothing?…

It’ll pass. It always does. As much as they exhaust me sometimes, my family holds me accountable for myself. They don’t know it, but they do. Because how could I do anything other than keep on going, when opting out would mean leaving behind these five people who would then forever wonder if I simply hadn’t loved them enough to stick around?

Ah, fuggit.

Clearly, tonight is not comeback night on this blog. I’m off to immerse myself in yet another day in the life of Detective Sergeant Logan McRae, of the brilliant crime series by Stuart MacBride.

Tomorrow, school’s out for the Easter holidays and I’ll be busy figuring out how to keep the young ‘uns occupied and entertained and out of my hair long enough to let me get on with doing some work every now and then.

Sleep tight, Mr. Serious. Maybe you’ll feel better tomorrow.

Like (to be) a boss

This morning, I read Stacey’s latest post over at Living Lionheart and immediately went to comment. But my comment started growing pretty long, pretty quickly, so I decided to blog it instead.

Reading that post, it hit me that my life is in a state of nowhere-ness. I’m a stay at home mom but not a housewife.  I’m a business owner but not a boss. I.e., I sometimes employ people on a casual basis but  I don’t have any full time employees to manage. This works for me right now because I’m utterly RUBBISH at handing over a project and overseeing or delegating until it’s done. But at some point I’m going to have to have full time help and I’m going to have to let people own the jobs I employ them to do.

Stacey talks in her post about second guessing her choices and actions a lot. All The Time, in fact. And I think that’s something we all tend to do, regardless of our position in life. We always wonder whether we’re doing the right thing, whether there might not have been a better/faster/easier way of getting to where we want to be or whether we even want the right things for us, right?

And that’s not even taking into account the parenting stuff!

Life took a couple of unexpected turns a few years ago, including retrenchment from a very lucrative job; two more babies, five years after the first two and various other big and small changes over time. In the process,  I’ve kind of left behind the media/writing industry (although I’ll still be the guy who runs those aspects of my business for the foreseeable future) and find myself in the chemical manufacturing industry instead. Where I am now,  I’m not out there pitching to potential clients for new business or having to have frequent meetings with clients. When I meet with people these days, it’s in safety boots, hard hats and reflective vests because, more often than not, I’m meeting them on a construction/roofing site. It’s a far cry from the conference rooms, hotel lobbies, overseas trips and company-bought lunches of my old PR days…

As a woman  in an industry still very much dominated by males and where the shift to online presence is at least a decade behind that in most other industries, I’ve been tempted (often) to ask Stacey for a job. For serious. Because, on top of having to ignore gender prejudice and leering eyes, there’s nothing that’ll make you second guess yourself more than taking the plunge and starting up a business in an entirely new sector!

Now, as for my family, here’s where I get to raise my hand in answer to Stacey’s question about husbands who have child-related notes in their calendars. David is very involved with our kids and makes the time to attend cricket matches, play chess, read stories etc. He makes their school lunches and drops them off at school every day and, until Jack started primary school this year, used to pick up the two littler guys every afternoon. Now, it’s only James he still picks up in the afternoons on his way home but he still pretty much handles everything related to James’ school. I do all the stuff at the primary school, because it’s less than a kilometer from our house and my job is way more flexible, because I’m the boss.

So I can’t say on the parenting front that I’m missing too much of my kids’ lives. I’m lucky enough that my situation allows me to be there for most of what’s going on. I can attend sports days, pick them up from school, supervise homework, etc.

But what it means is that my productivity suffers.  I need to be getting more done, faster. And a lot of the slack comes from a lack of the focus, organisation and confidence that Stacey speaks of.  But a lot of it also comes from having to drop what I’m doing because the kids’ needs come first.

For the moment, what this means is that my work life consists of mornings only. Because once the kids are home from school, there’s no way I’m getting any work done. That’s not to say that I don’t get distracted by other things. Right now, for instance, I’m supposed to be catching up on my accounting. (Yes, the same accounting I was supposed to catch up on two weeks ago.) And it’s been ages since I’ve touched my business website. And I seem to have lost the plot in terms of keeping up with my filing and keeping my desk uncluttered… You get the picture.

Of course, I’m getting better at avoiding temptations and having cut out social media has been the single best move I’ve made in terms of increasing productivity, ever. And I find that the more productive I am, the more motivated I am to get more done. Sometimes, the time it takes to see the rewards is a bit long and I get tripped up again, feeling like I’m getting nowhere. But then I’ll get another big enquiry out of the blue or my day will run that much more smoothly, because I’ve been doing what I’m supposed to, keeping track of things with lists and stuff, and I’m raring to go again. As my business expands, I’ll have to slowly get into the habit of being consistently productive.  The nice part of it being the way it is, is that it allows me to grow and develop routines and strategies over time, rather than having to manage in crisis/cope mode all the time. I get to ease into it and master things in my own time.  Which, in theory means that one day, I’ll be running my life like a boss.

 

Drawing a Line

This morning, not long after David left to drop the kids off at school, he called me to tell me that Jack had forgotten to bring his school bag with him. Of course, this meant that I would have to bring it to school, otherwise David would be late for work.

When I arrived at the school, Jack was being held by his arms between two other boys, a couple of other boys following, walking past me. They were all laughing, so I didn’t make anything of it. I dropped the bag outside of Jack’s classroom and started making my way back to my car, when Jack came running toward me with the other boys hot on his heels, grabbing at him. And a split second later, I watched Jack pivot and throw a single punch and the larger boy behind him come to a dead stop. I’ll probably get in to trouble for saying so, but it was a thing of beauty. That series of movements was executed as if choreographed for a boxing film – the lightness of his feet, the speed, form and power of that blow, landing bang-in-the-middle of the other kid’s mouth. It was beautiful.

Now, if there had been any malice or forethought to it, I would probably have taken a different view on it. And I had to feel for the poor little guy who caught it in the kisser – they are, after all, a bunch of six year-olds.  But anyone watching would have told you that, outrun, outnumbered and feeling threatened, my boy took that swing in pure self-defense, landed it on the mark and then stopped.  Turns out the other boys had been trying to drag him to a group of girls nearby and make him kiss one of them and he was having none of it. I can’t argue with that. Everyone has a limit to the level of infringement they will allow on their personal space. Everyone has a line that you cross at your peril.

I obviously had to make a point of telling Jack then and there that punching is not okay and make him apologise to the other kid, who was bleeding a bit from his top gum. I made them shake hands and checked and double checked that the other kid was okay – the bleeding only lasted a couple of seconds. But I have a feeling I haven’t heard the end of this yet.

I suspect that the other kid will have told his parents that he got punched in the face today. And they will, in all likelihood, want to take it up with the school. I can’t say that I wouldn’t, in their shoes.  Things are different these days from back when I was at school. Kids can’t just sort out their shit anymore.

It used to be, when you had a beef with someone at school, you’d arrange a time and place and you’d have it out.  You’d arrive at the designated spot, assuming you didn’t chicken out  – and the shame of being labelled a coward was always significantly worse than any beating one of your peers might lay on you – and the challenger would draw a line in the sand a few feet in front of him. And his opponent would accept the challenge by stepping over that line, signalling the start of the fight. Someone would win, someone would lose and, by the end of it, both parties would normally walk away with a newfound respect for each other and come out of the whole thing firm friends.

These days, things just spiral completely out of hand too quickly and no-one can be trusted not to make a circus of any minor altercation. These days, children murder each other for little more than a few dirty eyeballs; Parents call conferences with teachers before the kids even really know what they’re upset with each other about; Lawyers and authorities are consulted, because children and parents and even teachers can’t be counted upon to reach sane, amicable solutions.  Families are called before committees because we’ve all become too sensitive to communicate effectively – it’s too easy to say the wrong thing and offend someone… And with the language barrier so common in our current society, cultural differences, the varied levels of social standing and education, it’s insane how quickly a thoughtless comment becomes a racial slur or a “bullying” incident; How a scuffle on the playground – a reflexive swing of a fist – becomes something more sinister…

It so happens I have a meeting with Jack’s teacher tomorrow morning, so I’ll be telling her of the incident before anyone else does. Let it not be said that I don’t view the matter seriously or that I condone violence from my children. But let it also not be said that my child is a bully. I will stand by him and back him and champion his cause and fight for him, whatever anyone says. Because I know who he is and I saw what happened and because, knowing what is likely coming, I’m drawing a line.

Domestic (Mostly Food) Stuff

Last night, my brother and SIL came over for dinner.  They don’t live all that far away but it’s rare for us to get together, so I decided that, although it was Tuesday, we’d have dessert with our dinner. (Pudding nights in our house are generally on Wednesdays and Sundays.)

I used to have a little treat of some kind handy for every night after supper. It happened sort of incidentally, without my giving it any thought – a Chomp or a couple of marshmallows or a cookie each. And then I started playing with dessert recipes and making more intricate stuff. And then, one day, when I’d had a long day and wasn’t in the mood, we had all hell break loose because the kids wanted pudding and I hadn’t made any. So I told the entitled little sods off and laid down the rule that we would only have pudding twice a week. Which, frankly, is plenty!

But having guests over changes things a little bit, and I made an exception for last night.

Since our cleaning lady was off sick, cooking dinner for 10 people plus cleaning was going to be a bit of an ask, so I bought a couple of Woolies’ rotisserie chickens for the occasion, which I served with skillet roasted sweet potatoes and salad. And then I made individual chocolate lava cakes/chocolate volcanoes, using this recipe. I didn’t have any bittersweet chocolate, so I used a combination of ordinary cooking chocolate and Cadbury’s Dairy Milk. Other than that,  I followed the recipe to the letter, but found that my volcanoes, although softer in the centres, were not as gooey as I would have liked.  When I bake them again tonight, I’ll shorten the baking time to about 7 minutes and see how it goes. Despite being a bit overcooked, they were utterly delicious and I served them hot with vanilla ice cream on top. They were so good, I didn’t even have time to snap a pic!

Yesterday, I also finally made it to the Joburg Market, where I registered, picked up my buying card and dipped my toes in the bulk produce buying waters. I came away with a box of bananas, a box of apples, two boxes of grapes and a box of spinach.  And I learned a couple of things:

1. A trip to the market to buy bulk fresh produce requires excellent advance planning. I’m going to have to research and find out what fruits and veggies can be packaged and frozen and have my meal plans worked out in advance. They don’t sell anything in small quantities – you can’t pick up a bag of apples, for example, or a punnet of tomatoes. You buy a BOX of bags of apples and a CASE of punnets of tomatoes. And yes, they work out WAY less expensive than buying individual bags or punnets at the supermarket but then you have to figure out how to store them so that they don’t go off before you have a chance to use them.

2. A smile and a greeting can make ALL the difference to the service you receive. This is obviously not a new lesson but just something I was reminded of when dealing with the customer care official and sellers at the market yesterday. Also, if you approach people in a calm, friendly manner, they’re likely to go that little bit further to help you.

3. If I am going to be buying fresh produce in bulk, our grocery bill may very well be significantly lowered and we will be eating a lot more fresh stuff at breakfast and lunch as well as supper. Which is fantastic, because I have been nagging at David about getting the kids off bread for ages! I can TOTALLY live with having a variety of salads for lunches every day. Also, I’ve wanted to buy the kids those cooler bag style lunch bags and now, if we’re going to be eating fresh stuff instead of bread, they’re going to need them.  It also means that I will be able to pack them more stuff to school, including their water and juice bottles and snacks for sports after school.

4. If you’re going to shop at the Joburg Market, pick a day to go and GO EARLY.  The market opens at 5:00 in the mornings and runs until around 11:00. I went after 9:00 yesterday and, for a first time, I think it was perfect. There weren’t too many people around and I could fumble my way through and figure it out at leisure. But if I’m going to be doing this regularly, I’d rather be there when the doors open, be well prepared and get out before the day gets going full tilt.

Right now, though, I need to figure out what to do with 18kg of bananas and 12kg of apples.  For a start, I’m going to take a whole bunch of them and cut them up and package them into individual smoothie bags for freezing. I’m also going to bake a few banana loaves and I’ll probably try out some of the paleo pudding recipes I’ve found and pinned on Pinterest recently. And perhaps I’ll try my hand at a gluten free Apfelstrudel or two.

Hmmm…. I can taste it now – thick, doughy pastry filled with piping hot, cinnamon coated apples, topped with vanilla ice-cream, chopped almonds and maple syrup…

Do you have any tips for storing and/or using up bulk produce? Have you ever considered doing it?

 

 

Twelve

On Sunday, David and I celebrated our twelfth wedding anniversary.

It was a good day, nothing like anything I would have planned for us. We spent it with the kids at Dikhololo, courtesy of David’s folks, who had booked us the weekend there months ago.

I was pretty miffed at first because I felt that our anniversary plans should have been our own to make and that, by booking us the 6-sleeper chalet, which was obviously so that we could take the kids with us, our special day had kind of been hijacked.  But the weekend rolled around and I started packing and by the time we were on the road, I was fine.

We spent a lot of time swimming at the resort. There was no shortage of swimming pools and, given the current heat wave blistering across the country, even I was not averse to being in the water. And anyone who knows me knows that I am NOT known for my love of swimming…

We also spent a lot of time eating ice cream and sleeping while the kids glued themselves to Cartoon Network – something we are adamant will not become a fixture in our home.  And David and I sipped a few Original Iced Mojitos and enjoyed a bottle of wine out on our little verandah in the evenings, gazing at the sky and listening to the quiet of the bush around us.

We didn’t really do much thinking about things or talking about work or making grand, romantic gestures. We really just took the time out and enjoyed it for what it was – a weekend away from everything. So much so that I didn’t even bother taking any photos, except for this one, hastily snapped selfie, with my finger in the shot, taken on Sunday. ( If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve already seen it.)

Us, on our 12th anniversary
Us, on our 12th anniversary

We’ve weathered some storms in our years together and for much of it, life has seemed a bit of a slog. Not in terms of *us* but rather, us against the world or in the world and all its chaos and with all its curve balls.

But we’ve also had some amazing adventures, travels, experiences and good times. And it seems to me that this year, we are on our way to bigger, better things.

 

 

What’s Up?

I’m kind of vague when I talk about what it is that I’m so busy doing, that keeps me from blogging or being present in my interwebs circles in general.

Generally, it’s because getting into the details would probably bore you to death but largely it’s because I’m lazy.

But I was thinking about it this morning – about what’s happening in my life and why I feel so exhausted at the moment – and I realised that my life is actually pretty hectic right now!

Jack going to big school this year is a major catalyst for changes to the way my day runs and, frankly, I don’t think I would stand the slightest chance if I hadn’t removed myself from social media. (Yes, the fact that I mention this in every single post so far has not escaped my attention – clearly, it’s a big deal for me.) Even so, it seems to me I’m not nearly organised enough at this point. I’m trying, though, and we generally seem to get through each day with everyone having gotten to where they needed to be with what  they needed to have. I’m still struggling in a big way to find a routine that we can groove into.

Jack’s school day finishes earlier than Megan and Michael’s, so I’ve been doing 2 school runs in the afternoons. While we wait for the older kids to finish, I do homework with Jack. This week, though, I’ve decided to let them each pick an after school activity to attend. Michael has chosen chess, which happens on Monday and Wednesday afternoons. Megan has chosen Tennis, which happens to be at the same times on the same days. Jack signed himself up for cricket last week – I arrived to pick them all up from school on Friday to find Jack on the field, doing his thing. This is fine – I think I’m going to enjoy spending an hour or so outdoors every Friday afternoon while he gets to run off some excess energy. Also, the school offers “story time” in the library on the days that the older kids finish later, so Jack will be going to the library on those days from this week and he’s also keen to try chess, which means I don’t have to keep doing 2 school runs! Then I’ll just have to figure out how to keep helping Jack with his homework. Thankfully, he’s enjoying school and loves doing his homework!

Now, I’ve been a mom of 4 for almost 5 years and pretty much everyone I meet asks me how I manage. The truth is, until now, I’ve only really had to manage 2 of the 4 kids most of the time, because  the younger two were both at a pre-primary near David’s office and he would drop them off in the morning and pick them up on his way home in the afternoons. Plus, I wasn’t bothered with the older two doing extra murals, so I really only had to pick them up after school and bring them home.

Now, that’s all changed and I’m in awe of moms like Laura, who have been doing the soccer/cricket/swimming/dancing, 3 different schools madness for ages and still find time to blog, Facebook, tweet and run a household.

That said, I also have a business to run, one that has undergone a number of growing pains and identity changes over the past three years or so. I’ve gone from promoting someone else’s company and product to participating in research and development of an entirely new product, starting up a company with partners and finally breaking away from the partners to set up on my own in a very much male-dominated industry.

We have the basics down – company name, production setup in place, product labels and a large order, which we are producing and delivering in smaller quantities over a period of time. We manufacture in the evenings and over weekends, meaning David and I mix the paint ourselves outside of normal working hours. I take care of all the logistics behind this – sourcing and collecting raw materials, delivering product to clients, handling sales and enquiries, etc.

In the meantime, I have to get stuck into market research and marketing campaigns and get on top of the accounting admin.

Then, there’s the household. We now have a domestic who comes in twice a week and I LOVE her! She is a fantastically hardworking lady with the sunniest personality and impeccable integrity. I wish I could employ her full time because then my house would always be spotless.

Outside of keeping the house clean, there’s also the cooking and feeding 8 people daily is interesting!

My mom and sister live with us and my mom is a diabetic plus she and I both have Hashimoto’s, which means special dietary needs. We also have 4 kids in the house, some of who are extremely fussy eaters *cough, cough, JACK cough*.

I started trying to eat and cook gluten free when I was first diagnosed with Hashimoto’s almost 2 years ago now. It is still a struggle. Eating completely gluten free means that I have to bake my own bread, cakes, biscuits, etc. Yes, there are more and more gluten free products available on supermarket shelves but buying them in sufficient quantities to feed 8 people is simply not economically viable. My family eats 2 standard size loaves of bread daily. A ready made gluten free loaf costs 3 times as much and is half the size, meaning I would need to buy 4 loaves daily. At R36 per loaf, it would cost me R3168 on an average month with 22 working days just to buy bread. Not going to happen.

Also, if I were my kids, I would be so utterly sick of bread by now. Obviously, I don’t eat much bread because baking it takes too much time. So I’ve started looking into Paleo. Not because I want to lose weight or whatever but because if it’s Paleo, you know it’s good for you.  Lots of protein, lots of fresh veggies, everything is low GI for my diabetic mom and it’s perfect for those of us in the house who could do with dropping a few kg. Also, it eliminates the issue of having to bake completely because Paleo is totally grain free.

The thing with Paleo, though, is that it requires planning and learning a new cooking style, which also takes time. And since I’m the only one who actually is serious about really eating healthy, I’m the one who does most of the cooking. Which means researching, finding recipes, finding time to get to the shops and buying ingredients we don’t usually have in the house, etc. Also, no grains means no cakes, biscuits, etc. Which doesn’t help to get the family on board.

Our diet is one of my biggest challenges at the moment. Without buy-in and support from the rest of the family, I fall off the wagon a LOT. And I pay the price every time, too. Eating gluten drains me of energy, bloats me, leaves me sluggish and foggy-headed, sometimes for several days afterward. Which doesn’t help when I need to get up early in the morning to run.

And getting up early in the morning to run is the only option, if I am going to keep at it. Which means getting to bed no later than 10PM. Running is how I relieve stress and spend time on my own, doing something just for myself, so it’s a non-negotiable. It’s also how I challenge myself and build self-discipline. I signed up for the Old Mutual Om Die Dam half marathon this week, which leaves me just under 7 weeks to train. So, eating right and getting enough sleep is a big deal right now.

Reading over this post so far, I really don’t have more on my plate than any other working mom does but it feels messy and overwhelming because I’m so disorganised. I’m working on planning things better and being more efficient in getting things done. I think one of the most useful things I’ve started doing is making lists. I’ve done this in the past but it never lasts and, if I’m honest, it’s because I haven’t been using lists these past few days that I woke up today feeling like everything is out of control. That and because I forgot to take my thyroid stuff yesterday, ate two (wheat flour) cupcakes on Monday and haven’t gotten around to finishing some of the things I was supposed to do over the weekend.

So, starting now, I’m picking up my pretty Graphic diary from MillaMae again today and noting down all the things I have to get done, and starting over.  Also, David brought me a diary from work – a corporate gift from one of his suppliers – which I’ve decided is going to be used for managing the kids’ schedules, homework and activities.

This year, I’m going to win at life!

How are you doing in 2015 so far?